One of the funniest but most awful jokes told by John Bishop is when he describes being in bed with his wife of so many years, looking into her eyes and saying, "Why are you still here?" Sometimes, as we go out in the ice and cold, and drive for hours to a client who's perhaps not in the mood for sense, or a horse that really is quite fractious, I say the same thing to Tracey. Not only does she come out with me whenever she can, and at the moment do all the practical work, but she has children of school age, looks after Barbara as a carer, and currently goes to work at 3 a.m. to gather shopping together for a major superstore. Just to add to this burden I asked her yesterday if she would write a blog entitled to answer the question, "Why are you still here?" and this is what she sent me...
"What seems like a very long time ago now I bought a pony to
try to put my, then wayward, daughter*, back on the right tracks. It was never my
intention to buy an untouched New Forest Pony straight off of the Forest and
I found myself unsure of the way ahead. I trawled the internet and found a book,
you’ve guessed, No Fear, No Force! I trained our ‘wild’ pony using the methods
in the book and was delighted when I realised how close and how reasonably
priced Sarah was. Who better to explain it all to Amy, ‘cause a teenager never
believes her mum.' We booked a visit and I was hooked.
Shortly after I, with Sarah’s help, got a friends horse
loading, I was even more hooked.
Sarah offered Amy some work experience, so when she didn’t
take up the offer I did and have now been working with Sarah for about three
and a half years. It never gets old. We go to an appointment and she looks at
the horse with an understanding and empathy that goes deep inside, seemingly
right to the horse's soul. It’s like she’s asking a troubled friend “What’s
wrong?” She hears the answer and says “Let me in, I’ll help”. She has an insight
into their feelings and I have watched many, many horses start to relax within
the first five minutes of meeting Sarah, it’s like magic.
Sarah often says “When I want a horse to stand still, I just
ask him to stand still” and that’s just it, what ever she wants the horse to do
or, equally, not to do something. She just explains so that the horse understands,
nothing dramatic and no big words (not that she doesn’t know any
big words we often have a word of the day that I didn’t even know existed!)
There are rules for the horse, but not many, and everything is kept clear
and consistent, everything is explained kindly with an understanding of anyone having to
learn something new. Along with all the practical training comes an analogy for
every situation, they are light hearted and make a tricky task easy to remember
or the horse's behaviour easier to understand, I could listen to Sarah talk all
day – oh, I do!
Sometimes getting the owner to understand why the horse is
doing what ever it might be helps them to reignite their bond, as it no longer
becomes blame but a respect for each other. Picking up that an owner has lost
confidence or has a feeling of no hope, Sarah restores hope and builds the
foundations of new confidence often in just one session, picking out simple
and sometimes seemingly insignificant things they are doing well.
Every horse and owner we have seen has, without a doubt, benefited from a
visit from Sarah. She goes out of her way to give the very best of herself, and
do the very best for each and every horse. It's an honour to work with her and a
bonus to have made the best friend a girl could want.
* I should just add that Tracey's 'wayward daughter' has turned into a superstar. Not only did she become one of the only college students that was taken for work experience at The Barn (they normally only take veterinary students) but then she became one of the youngest managers ever at Pets at Home. She then spotted a job as a Nurse Care Assistant in the NHS, sailed the interview, and is now loving her job at the hospital. She has already saved someone's life